Axioma superyacht to become first vessel seized under Russian sanctions to be auctioned

The £65m luxury craft will be sold by the Gibraltar government on Tuesday, with proceeds due to go to JP Morgan not Ukraine

The 'Axioma' superyacht belonged to Russian oligarch Dmitrievich Pumpyansky, who is on the EU's list of sanctioned Russians. Reuters
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The Axioma will become the first seized superyacht to be auctioned after sanctions were imposed on Russian oligarch's following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Proceeds from the sale of the £65m luxury vessel on Tuesday in Gibraltar won't go to Ukraine, however, but instead US investment bank JP Morgan, which says it is owed more than $20m (£17m) by the yacht's billionaire Russian ex-owner, Dmitry Pumpyansky.

Detained in Gibraltar in March, the 72.5-metre Axioma is the epitome of yachting opulence, boasting six guest cabins, a pool, gym, jacuzzi, spa and 3D cinema.

Although many oligarch-owned or affiliated superyachts have been seized since the UK, EU and US imposed a raft of sanctions on wealthy Russians, the Axioma is the first to have been put up for sale.

Superyachts of Russian oligarchs - in pictures

The auction materialised after JP Morgan launched a legal claim for the money it says it is owed by Pyrene Investments, Pumpyansky’s holding company.

The US bank said the terms of the loan had been broken because it was unable to accept repayments from Pyrene following the sanctions imposed on Pumpyansky. It thus asked Gibraltar's courts to seize and sell the yacht.

“The Axioma was arrested following the filing of an admiralty claim in the supreme court. Given that the sale is by auction, pursuant to an order of the court, the Admiralty marshal cannot say how much it is expected to sell for or how many people have expressed interest,” a spokesperson for Gibraltar Courts Service said.

However, the man in charge of the auction told the UK's Guardian newspaper there had been an “unexpected late surge by prospective buyers” with more than 30 from around the world travelling to Gibraltar.

“They are people who own or have owned boats of similar size, and have been attracted to this boat because of the judicial sale process – they are convinced they’re going to get a bargain,” said Nigel Hollyer, the broker to the Admiralty marshal of the supreme court of Gibraltar.

Originally called Red Square, the Axioma was built by Dunya Yachts in Turkey in 2013, and was available for other millionaires to charter for $558,500 a week.

With an estimated fortune of £1.84bn, the loss of revenue is unlikely to trouble Pumpyansky too gravely. He is the owner and chairman of steel pipe manufacturer OAO TMK, which supplies Russia state energy giant Gazprom. The UK has described him as one of Vladimir Putin's closest oligarchs. Unsurprisingly, he could not be contacted for comment on the impending auction.

Updated: August 21, 2022, 4:45 AM
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